II Annual CAF-Oxford Conference 2014. The Emerging Middle Class in Latin America: Causes, Challenges and Opportunities
On 31st October 2014, the conference on “The Emerging Middle Class in Latin America: Causes, Challenges and Opportunities”, held at the Nissan Theatre in St Antony’s College was attended by 150 students. The conference featured internationally renowned scholars and senior members of CAF analyzing the emergence of a “new middle class” in Latin America. Contributors to the conference highlighted the following three key themes: 1) The middle class remains a contested concept. The concept, definition and proper measurement of the middle class are all contested in Latin America. While governments claim that a large part of the population has entered the middle class, definitions based on economic security show that they are still vulnerable. 2) There is a gap between aspirations and the delivery of public services. The expectations and aspirations of the new middle class have yet to be met. Due to fiscal and institutional shortcomings, the states’ capacities may be insufficient to keep pace with the rising demand for better public services. 3) The effect of declining economic growth on the new middle class is unknown. The new middle class emerged in a recent period of economic growth in Latin America, largely coinciding with the commodity boom. The extent to which this positive trend can be sustained in a time of economic volatility and lower expansion is uncertain.
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